I am often asked, “what was the biggest workers’ comp settlement in Pennsylvania?” My answer: who cares?
There are limits on the benefits an injured person may receive under the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation act. For the profoundly injured or disabled worker who may need expensive medical care, it may make no sense to settle a workers' compensation case. Merely because an attorney settled a workers' compensation case for a large sum of money may mean nothing if the client gives up medical coverage. If the settlement is used to pay for medical treatment and the money runs out, the client may have nothing but Medicare to pay for additional medical treatment, and Medicare has very significant coverage limitations.
Workers' compensation is not like a personal injury law, in which an individual can recover for loss of future earning power, pain and suffering, and economic damages. Most workers' compensation recoveries in Pennsylvania are limited to medical expense coverage and fixed wage-loss benefits. When the parties settle a workers' compensation case, it is a true settlement in which all parties agree to the settlement amount. In a personal injury case, an attorney can always let a jury decide the value of the case. That cannot be done in workers' compensation court.
If a firm brags about a multi-million dollar workers' compensation settlement, they represented somebody who suffered a catastrophic injury and settled the case for a lump sum the insurance company was willing to pay because it thought it would be cheaper than paying for future medical expenses. If the insurance company thinks it is cheaper to pay millions in a lump-sum settlement of medical expenses, do you think the worker may have been better off with open life-long medical coverage? Don't be fooled by people bragging about settling such cases. We routinely reject requests to settle their claims for medical benefits because it sometimes is not in the interests of the profoundly sick or injured to give up medical coverage.